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Ocean-Ice-Atmosphere Interactions in the Terra Nova Bay Polynya, Antarctica

Antarctic coastal polynas are, at the same time, sea-ice free sites and 'sea-ice factories'. They are open water surface locations where water mass transformation and densification occurs, and where atmospheric exchanges with the deep ocean circulation are established. Various models of the formation and persistence of these productive and diverse ocean ecosystems are hampered by the relative lack of in situ meteorological and physical oceanographic observations, especially during the inhospitable conditions of their formation and activity during the polar night. Characterization of the lower atmosphere properties, air-sea surface heat fluxes and corresponding ocean hydrographic profiles of Antarctic polynyas, especially during strong wind events, is sought for a more detailed understanding of the role of polynyas in the production of latent-heat type sea ice and the formation, through sea ice brine rejection, of dense ocean bottom waters. A key technological innovation in this work continues to be the use of instrumented unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to enable the persistent and safe observation of the interaction of light and strong katabatic wind fields, and mesocale cyclones in the Terra Nova Bay (Victoria Land, Antarctica) polynya waters during late winter and early summer time frames.

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